Diversity of the European indigenous wild apple (Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill.) in the East Ore Mountains (Osterzgebirge), Germany: II.Genetic characterization
In the present study genetic diversity and hybridization with cultivars were investigated in a population of the endangered European wild apple species Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. with the aim to establish a basis for the implementation of conservation activities and to ensure its long-term preservation. A total of 284 putative M. sylvestris trees located in the East Ore Mountains were investigated along with a standard set of reference apple genotypes proposed by the European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR) and 13 old apple cultivars often cultivated in Saxony. The genetic analysis was performed using 12 microsatellite markers also recommend by the ECPGR. To differentiate "true type" M. sylvestris individuals, hybrids and apple cultivars (Malus 9 domestica Borkh.) a model-based cluster analysis was performed using STRUCTURE. Two clusters were identified consisting of M. sylvestris and M. 9 domestica genotypes. About 40 % of the putative M. sylvestris showed an admixture of the speciesspecific allele frequencies and were defined as hybrids. The genetic diversity of the ‘true type’ M. sylvestris population was still high but slightly lower than in the apple cultivars especially since some SSR loci were fixed on one or few alleles in the M. sylvestris population. The differentiation parameters between "true type" wild apple and cultivars indicated a clear discrimination between the wild and cultivated apple individuals. This fact confirms our expectation of the existence of "true type" M. sylvestris individuals in the East Ore Mountains and argues for the realization of preservation measures in this area.
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